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“We’re stepping up to support our federal employees," said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
Federal employees in Denver who aren’t being paid because of the partial government shutdown may be eligible for up to $5,000 in mortgage assistance through a new city program.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced the Temporary Mortgage Assistance program on Monday. It’s not only open to feds. Other people who meet the eligibility criteria can apply also. The city had been planning to launch the program, but bumped it up on its priority list in reaction to the shutdown, a city spokesperson explained on Tuesday.
“We’re stepping up to support our federal employees where we can,” Hancock said during a press conference.
The program provides up to two months of assistance, or a maximum of $5,000, to help cover mortgage payments for people facing hardship due to unexpected changes in their employment. This can include furlough, temporary layoff, or a significant loss of hours.
To qualify, a person must earn no more than 120 percent of the local area median income, which works out to about $107,000 for a household of four in Denver, according to a city official.
There’s currently about $485,000 available for the initiative, which should be enough to help about 225 to 240 households, Eric Hiraga, executive director of the Office of Economic Development said. Recipients of the aid are not expected to repay it, he added.
In the metro region that includes Denver, Lakewood and Aurora, Colorado, there were about 27,500 federal employees as of November, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show.
But it’s not clear based on that number how many people in Denver are not working or working and not being paid due to the shutdown.
The partial government closure, now the nation’s longest, hit its 25th day on Tuesday. President Trump and Democrats are at an impasse over his demand for $5.7 billion to pay for a wall on the nation’s southern border with Mexico. The president says the wall is needed for security, while Democrats contend that is a waste of money.
In addition to the mortgage program, city officials in Denver said eligible federal employees can also tap the city’s Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance program if they need. It offers up to six months of rental assistance and as much as $1,000 for utility costs.
Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.